Ghost guns in NYC: The unseen threat

The NYPD is ramping up its efforts to address the spread of ghost guns, especially following a shocking discovery at a daycare in East Harlem.

These firearms are:

  • Untraceable
  • Unregulated
  • Finding their way into unsuspecting and vulnerable locations

At the heart of a recent bust was Alay's Day Care on East 117th Street, where authorities uncovered ghost guns and 3D printers in an unlocked room. Three individuals, including an 18-year-old and two minors, were taken into custody.

This isn't the first alarming incident of its kind this month. Earlier, a 1-year-old tragically lost his life due to suspected fentanyl poisoning in a Bronx apartment, amplifying concerns about the safety of home-based daycares.


Husband of Bronx day care owner arrested in Mexico after 1-year-old's death

Police say that Felix Herrera was arrested in Mexico, having been on the run for over a week since the death of Nicholas Dominici.

Ghost gun statistics showcase a troubling trend:

  • A 66% increase in recoveries last year, rising from 263 in 2021 to 436.
  • They constituted 12.2% of all guns retrieved in the city last year, a leap from 4.4% in 2021 and 2.7% in 2020.

She has spearheaded efforts against this growing problem, initiating a unit focusing on these weapons. She says the rise in people using 3-d printers and purchasing parts off the internet to assemble weapons is more than just a hobby it also represents a new way to earn quick money.

"It's like a side gig," she said. "Now you can get a package of different parts of a gun and build it yourself. And the fact that they are difficult to trace, we want to make sure that we put extra effort, extra power of staff extra resources in defining them, even though we can't trace them."

For many, the ease of assembling these guns, their untraceability, and their subsequent sale have turned into a lucrative side business. A 27-year-old man from Queens, who had no prior criminal history, was accused of selling these untraceable firearms to individuals both within the city and in Trinidad. 


Queens drug bust reveals fentanyl danger to children

Detectives say there was also evidence that the drugs were being mixed with fentanyl.

In another instance, an airline mechanic was accused earlier this spring, found in possession of a vast collection of high-powered gun kits and parts for silencers. Additionally, a pharmacist from Bayside faced legal consequences, pleading guilty to weapon possession following charges related to gun trafficking charges.

"People are building them, selling them, and they're being used in assaults and murders," Katz added.

The consequences have already played out on City Streets.

"There are no serial numbers, and no background checks," said Bronx Congressman Ritchie Torres. For him, it's an issue that hits home.

In response, Torres is pushing for legislation in honor of the 16-year-old victim to tighten regulations around these firearms, especially in school zones. However, the deeply divided nature of current politics makes the path challenging.

In national developments, the US Supreme Court has backed the Biden administration's efforts to regulate gun manufacturing. Yet, detractors believe that future administrations could easily reverse these steps, hinting at New York's ongoing struggles to outlaw ghost guns effectively.

As for the daycare incident, the prime suspect is slated to return to court, facing charges including illegal firearms possession and manufacturing assault weapons.